September 30, 2006
Review by Jake Thomas
This is a show I would have been stoked to be at no matter what; but the fact that it was benefit for Pat Spurgeon of Rogue Wave (one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met, who is in need of a new kidney)…well, I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. And given this line-up and the turnout for the gig, obviously I’m not the only one who thinks highly of Pat.
I missed the first couple of acts (The Winechuggers and The Moore Brothers) but got in the door just in time to see John Vanderslice setting himself up on stage. As a matter of full disclosure, I’ve been pretty critical of this guy’s music in the past for whatever reasons…but he did a damn fine job this evening. He played a few numbers solo, and then asked Ben Gibbard to come on stage and help him with an old MK Ultra song. Then some of Nada Surf lads joined them and they played another song together before Vanderslice’s time was up.
Nada Surf played a stripped-down set next – acoustic guitar, some occasional bass, and this strange percussion box that the drummer sat on and tapped at with his hands. This was the band I was most excited about seeing, because I haven’t seen them live since I began obsessively listening to their last couple of records over the last year or two. The band played a huge chunk of their most recent album “The Weight Is A Gift”, a couple of unreleased gems and a cover or two. It was a brilliant set of music even if it didn’t include my favorite track by the band “Blonde on Blonde” from their album “Let Go”.
The performer I’m guessing most folks were here to see, Ben Gibbard, came on stage for the next set. He alternated his mostly-Death Cab for Cutie set between the acoustic guitar and the upright piano on stage, with the piano winning out as the best accompaniment for the stripped-down songs. He finished out his set joined by Daniel Handler, MC of the evening and best known as the author of the Lemony Snicket books; Handler manned the accordion and the two of them performed both a Graham Nash and a Monkees cover (with Ben going to great lengths to describe what a great and underrated band he thinks The Monkees were). Finally, there was an acoustic version of the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” which seemed to put all the Hot Topic girls in the crowd at a swoon state (note: I know I’m getting old but there were a number of females, most of whom were wearing way too much make-up but that is neither here nor there, that were not possibly 21 or older…just sayin’).
After an introduction by Pat’s mom thanking the crowd for the support of her son, Rogue Wave closed out the evening with a set that was as much cover and collaboration as it was original works. They kicked it off with a subdued version of my favorite song of theirs “10 to 1”, and from there on out had their tracks co-mingling with hit tracks by the likes of the Beatles, Nirvana, The Who, and god knows what else, I lost count at some point. Folks that had performed earlier in the evening went back and forth from the stage seemingly at a whim, and the whole affair had the feeling of watching a bunch of friends perform for each other; as if this same show would be occurring whether or not the crowd was there. Eventually, EVERYONE got on the stage with the band and they cranked out a very impressive cover of Elvis Costello’s “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding”. A glorious ending to a fine evening for a good cause, and one of the best shows I’ve seen all year.